A Church Without a Building PDF Print E-mail
Written by Cynthia Brewer   
Saturday, 03 August 2013 22:32

Remember the rhyme where you lock your fingers together and say, “Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open it up and there’s all the people”? I have heard the inaccuracy of that rhyme discussed, because we should understand that “the church” is “the people.” Acts 2:47 says, “…And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” As people were baptized, God added them to His church. He did not put them in a special building in Jerusalem, but He made them part of the body of Christ, the group of people who believed and obeyed Him. Though I have understood this fact in the past, its reality has truly sunk in over the past several months.

 

We walked in the door of our meeting place one Sunday last February to find the ceiling caved in and chunks of plaster all over the place. It was completely unusable. So, what could we do? Did we cancel services because we could not meet in our building? Of course not—we simply gathered up our communion supplies, song books, and some chairs, went to a home, and had our worship service. We sang songs, ate the Lord’s Supper, prayed, had a sermon, and took up a collection—just like we do every Sunday. We were still the Lord’s church. We were still Christians assembling to remember Christ and worship God.

 

In a sense, the loss of our meeting place was difficult to accept. There are certainly problems that arise from being suddenly forced out, and the search for a new building has been discouraging. However, as we have managed to deal with the situation, there have been several lessons either learned or reinforced by our experience:

 

  1. The local church is not dependent on a building or a sign in the window. It is made up of Christians and exists whether we have a place to hang a sign or not. We should make sure our children also understand this point, and see that we can obey God no matter what our situation is. The possession or loss of physical things does not determine whether we serve God or not. Whether we have our worship services in a building, a rented room, or someone’s house, we are the church and we do what God wants us to do.

  2. Working together as fellow Christians is crucial. A lot of communication and cooperation has been required to keep things running smoothly over the past few months. There is no bulletin board to hang up information and sign-up sheets, and our meeting location varies frequently. The search for a more permanent location has been an ongoing effort with which many of our members are helping. Things would be chaotic and unproductive if we did not work together. We have continued to have gospel meetings, Bible classes, and worship services, but these things would not have happened without communication and cooperation among members.

  3. Each person needs to work. Sometimes we may fall into a rut of coasting along and letting
    others take care of things. Women especially may feel like there is not much they can do. However, there are more responsibilities to be taken when there is no permanent meeting place. Members here have opened their homes to the church for services. They have gone to great lengths to move furniture, do extra cleaning, and plan parking arrangements to make it possible. A large box of songbooks has to be taken to and from each service. Chairs and a podium have to be moved to the houses we are meeting in month to month on Wednesday evenings. The communion supplies have to be kept in a box and taken to and from worship each Sunday. These things have required extra efforts that had not been needed before. And yet people have jumped in and taken these responsibilities without complaint and without attention. Each of us needs to think about things that are needed by our local congregations, no matter what our situations are. Do I just assume everything will be handled by someone else, or do I see what I can do to help? The things I have mentioned are all physical things, but each member should also be working in evangelism and edification, too. It is not just the preacher’s job to share the gospel with other people—we need to work!

  4. Bible classes can be taught without resource rooms. Resource rooms and supplies are great, and certainly there is nothing wrong with them. But right now most of our supplies are in a storage unit. We cannot decorate bulletin boards or put things up on the walls. However, we have continued our children’s classes without a hitch because we have teachers who take time and use their creativity to make them happen. We can teach the Bible to our children without nicely decorated classrooms or toddler tables. We have sat on the floor, had classes in bedrooms, and had two classes meeting in one conference room at the same time. We are flexible and adapt to whatever our situation is, and our kids are learning the truth just as they did before. When we have our resources, bulletin boards, and our own walls on which to hang things, we will be glad to use them! But we know that those things are not requirements for successful Bible classes.

 

There are certainly advantages to having a building that the church can meet in regularly, and we will be thankful when we find a new place to call our own. There are sometimes advantages to having things shaken up a bit, too. We are forced to think about our status as a church, pushed to work together and to individually do our parts, and encouraged to be creative and diligent in teaching our children in challenging situations. In the scheme of things, not having our own building is a small problem. There are Christians in the world who have much less than we have, and they still serve God. There are Christians in the world who are persecuted, and they still serve God. We are simply being reminded that material things and physical places do not make a church. We are the body of Christ, the Lord’s church, no matter what.

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 August 2013 22:35
 

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This is the personal page of Kris Brewer, who currently works with the Gallatin Valley church of Christ in Bozeman, Montana.

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